News / Middle East

Libya's Transitional Government Faces Human Rights Challenges

Gaddafi loyalists, taken prisoner by anti-Gaddafi fighters, are led out after they were found hiding in a hospital in the center of Sirte, October 9, 2011.
Gaddafi loyalists, taken prisoner by anti-Gaddafi fighters, are led out after they were found hiding in a hospital in the center of Sirte, October 9, 2011.

Libya's new leaders are forming a transitional government as they consolidate control and battle the remaining forces loyal to deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi. They face numerous challenges - perhaps one of the greatest being in the area of human rights.

Libyans are still savoring freedom and today a popular outing is to visit the sprawling palace grounds of ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Children pose for pictures among the ruins of the deposed colonel's palace and former rebels fire their guns in celebration.

Bones pictured at the scene of a mass grave in Tripoli, September 25, 2011.
Bones pictured at the scene of a mass grave in Tripoli, September 25, 2011.

Libyans are also uncovering the excesses of Mr. Gadhafi's 42-year rule. Human rights activists say the society has yet to address severe human rights abuses during the Gadhafi era as well as during the struggle to remove him.

Abu Salim Prison is a vast walled complex where thousands of political prisoners were held over the years and where many of them died or disappeared.  When rebels took over the prison in late August, they found extensive files about political prisoners, dissidents and many ordinary citizens.

Mohamed Salem Drah is one of several human rights lawyers documenting detentions, disappearances and other violations by the Gadhafi regime.

"It is very important for history.  It is very important for those who were injured.  It is very important for justice itself," said Drah.

Doctors and nurses in his group are also documenting cases of abuse of prisoners and civilians during the months of fighting.  They say both sides committed abuses, although they say, Gadhafi loyalists were responsible for most of them.

The head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, is urging Libyans to refrain from acts of revenge and is calling on Libyans to build a state that respects the rule of law.

Jalil says the nation must work to abolish hatred and jealousy, and he urges Libyans to avoid revenge and oppression. He says reports of abuses will be investigated.

Human rights organizations are especially concerned about the plight of Libya's sub-Saharan Africans who numbered more than one million and made up one-sixth of the country's population.  Some of them reportedly fought with forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

Rights workers say more than one-third of all prisoners are black Africans.  Some of them have told reporters that they were offered money or citizenship to fight for Mr. Gadhafi.

But most were migrant workers.  Many fled Libya when the fighting began.  But more than 100,000 remained and gathered in makeshift camps for protection.

Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch says many were suspected of being pro-Gadhafi fighters and often were detained without reason or charge.

"The problem is that once they get detained by these overzealous young armed men on the streets, they get taken to a detention facility and there is really no process in place to get them released.  There is no investigative authority, no judicial authority in place right now," Bouckaert said.

Bouckaert says it will be difficult to transform the police state built by Moammar Gadhafi into a modern democratic society.  But, he says, this is what most Libyans want.

“We know there will be vast challenges to rebuild structures of a state, but there really is a genuine commitment there - not just on the part of the new leadership, but also on the part of the population.  It lived under brutality for so long that they know it is not what want,” said Bouckaert.

He says it is important that supporters of Mr. Gadhafi who did not engage in human rights violations be included in the healing and rebuilding process.  Because, he says, if they join, the transition can be achieved relatively smoothly and without retribution.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid